Cat Care Essentials
Cats are amazing, smart and, at times, mysterious animals. They can be affectionate, silly, aloof or sweet but, no matter what their personality, they love us unconditionally. It's no wonder so many of us choose to share our homes with these wonderful felines! Here we've listed the essentials of responsible cat care. It's our way of giving back that love and creating a lasting bond with our kitty companions.
SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR CAT
Not only will you be controlling the serious problem of pet overpopulation but it will prevent future health problems for your cat and keep them from exhibiting negative behaviors such as urine marking (spraying). Cats should be fixed before they reach the age of 6 months and many shelter veterinarians perform spay/neuter surgery once they've reached 2 pounds.
TAKE YOUR CAT TO THE VETERINARIAN
Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations and find a vet nearby whom you can trust. Yearly check-ups are the minimum suggested for healthy cats. Senior or chronically ill cats may require more frequent visits. This goes without saying, but if you suspect there is anything medically or behaviorally wrong with your cat, see your vet as soon as possible. It's also a good idea to keep your regular vet's and the emergency vet's information handy and keep the phone number and address posted on your refrigerator. As for vaccine protocol, you might want to be prepared before having that conversation with your veterinarian. Here is a good start.
FEED YOUR CAT A NUTRITIOUS DIET
This is very important! Please don't take this subject lightly. Do some research online or ask your veterinarian about what your cat needs in her/his daily diet. There have been many pet food recalls lately and you want to stay informed. Also, make sure there is always at least one fresh bowl of water available.
HAVE YOUR CAT MICROCHIPPED
Even indoor cats can be sneaky at times and slip out the door or window and collars can slip off. It's always better to be safe than sorry. Your local shelter may offer discounted microchips (OCAS charges only $15 per cat) or any veterinarian can provide the service. Don't forget to register the microchip once it's implanted and if you move make sure to change the address linked to the account.
MAKE YOUR SPACE A CAT-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT
Whether you live in a small apartment or a large house, you want your kitty to feel comfortable. After all, our feline companions are part of the family and they need their own spaces too. Providing scratching posts, beds, boxes, window perches and plenty of toys will keep your fur baby happy and therefore ensure a more pleasant and peaceful household. "Catify to Satisfy" by Jackson Galaxy is a great resource to get ideas for creating a cat-friendly home.
GIVE YOUR CAT TIME AND ATTENTION
Cats are beautiful to look at but they are not there for decoration. They are sentient beings and crave human attention and interaction. Make sure you spend quality time with your kitty every day. This can include play time with toys, grooming, petting, walking (if they're leash trained) and snuggling. To see what toys we like, click here.
KEEP THE LITTER BOX CLEAN
First of all, if you have multiple cats, make sure you have enough litter boxes for everyone and that they are much bigger than the kitties using them. All boxes should be scooped at least once a day and the litter should be changed out periodically depending on how many cats are using the box and the type of litter.
LISTEN TO YOUR CAT
As with any successful relationship, communication is the key! Obviously, cats can't talk but they do have their own language and it's up to us to learn it. If you think your cat is acting out, she/he is probably trying to tell you something. Don't dismiss it- they may actually be in pain and/or have a medical problem; or it could be something minor e.g., they don't like the smell of litter you are buying. Check out National Geographic's "How to Speak Cat" by Aline Alexander Newman and Dr. Gary Weitzman- it's full of great information.
Read about the Humane Society's cat care essentials here.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -Ghandi